WWD photographer Steve Eichner sees it all and shares his unique perspective from the front lines of New York Fashion Week, from the runways in the morning to the after parties and after after parties at night.
10:11 a.m.: Willow Shields. “Any relation to Brooke? Are you an actress? Sorry I’m old and out of it. What are you in?” Pause. “Hunger Games 1,2,3 and 4.”
10:21 a.m.: To the girl with the sparkly guitar-shaped handbag: “Play it” she mock strums and sticks her tongue out. Sick pic.
10:56 a.m.: I walk upstairs into the backstage and right to where I need to be: the catering table. Ahhhh. Sweet coffee.
11:03 a.m.: “Hey Steve!” Wes gives me a handshake and a smile.
11:07 a.m.: I hate it when I’m backstage and accidentally see a naked model.
11:34 a.m.: Leaving the show walking with Rag and Bones’ Marcus Wainwright. “How many shows did you do today?” he asks. “Three so far and I’m also shooting the new Ralph Lauren store later,” I say. “No surprise he opens a new store everyday,” Marcus laughs.
11:37 a.m.: Walking through the Meatpacking District I see a fashion week Barbie pop-up party. I show my fashion week credentials. “Can I, Barbie?” “Sure come on in. Have a drink.” Very pulpy orange juice. Barbie does not mess around.
12:14 p.m.: Approaching the venue I see the back of a canvas being carried by two people. I spot the words Anna Wintour. I’m curious so I look at the front: It’s a very large painting of her. “What’s the story with this?” I ask. “We are artists. We are going to get as close to the show as we can for as long as we can,” they say. “Well you’re not splattering fake blood on furs so you should be OK.”
12:53 p.m.: Snap a cute iPhone photo of Jason Wu and Dan Lecca, reviewing photos from the rehearsal.
1:06 p.m.: The words on Bryanboy’s trucker hat: “Smile you’re someone’s reason to masturbate.”
1:17 p.m.: Old school and new coming together. Suzy Menkes and and Susanna Lau sitting together front row. Snap! Snap!
New Band of Outsiders Store — Interior Shoot
3:17 p.m.: Leave it to Band of Outsiders to have a door leading to nowhere in their new store, with a sign on it saying “Middle Earth.” Is Scott Sternberg a secret “Lord of the Rings” fanboy?
3:44 p.m.: “How’s life, Steve?” Jen Brill greets me. “Life is good, it’s better than the alternative.” I said. “Don’t be so dark,” Jen replied. Oops, I thought that was bright.
4:25 p.m.: Under pressure to get to my next important shoot on time: Ralph Lauren’s new 5th Avenue store. I ask, “Is anyone else expected?” “Yes, Rihanna. She’ll be sitting over there.” Well, I better stay. There’s no shot like a Rihanna shot.
4:30 p.m.: The room is like an oven. Everyone is fanning themselves and I’m soaked in sweat. Makes me contemplate, “Ralph or Rihanna? Ralph or Rihanna?”
4:36 p.m.: I hear someone say, “We have to start the show now.” Rihanna never showed while I was there. I thought she would like it hot.
Ralph Lauren Polo store shoot
5:05 p.m.: Still sweaty, I enter the humongous, yet-to-be-opened, 5th Avenue store. My assistant greets me with my lighting equipment. A quick set-up and the highly organized PR team whisks me around the pristine mega-shop. It was like a department store dedicated to one designer.
5:10 p.m.: I understand now why Ralph Lauren is a multibillion dollar empire. The team knew exactly what angles and areas they wanted me to shoot. No messing around with the guys and gals at Polo.
5:48 p.m.: The pressure’s on. Ralph is in the building. Portrait time. It doesn’t get any bigger than this for a fashion photographer. Luckily they have the perfect location: an in-store coffee shop with a giant neon cup as a background: “Ralph’s.”
5:55 P.m.: Light’s are set, bring in the man. “Hi, Mr. Lauren.” We shake hands. “You’ll be standing right here.” We do some test shots and look. It’s good but not perfect…and we need perfect. We rearrange things and more tests. Then Ralph has an idea, “Maybe I should do this sitting down.” He sits with a cup of joe. Still not quire right. He stands back up. “OK, Mr. Lauren, pick up the coffee cup.” His natural smile comes alive. Snap! Snap! Snap! Perfect!
Harper’s Bazaar party for Carine Roitfeld with a performance by Lady Gaga
8:42 p.m.: Red carpet is abuzz with photogs. However, I get to shoot inside the party. But there are some restrictions: “No performance photos without Gaga’s approval.”
9:23 p.m.: “Fashion is absurd,” Lauren Hutton said in an interview. Did I overhear that right?
9:35 p.m.: What’s with the weird “Pulp Fiction” hand gesture, Alexa Chung? Click. Click.
9:41 p.m.: The Gaga has landed, wearing a plunging dress and looking super sexy. The red in the carpet might as well be blood as everyone fights to get a shot.
9:44 p.m.: Finished with the carpet, Gaga heads my way. She’s holding hands with her boyfriend, Taylor Kinney. Snap! Snap!
9:46 p.m.: Her security detail leads her to a private room. Oops. She was supposed to mingle. Out comes Gaga, again. She works the room like a pro. Everyone wants to get their five seconds with the Gags.
9:48 p.m.: Donatella Versace and her daughter pose with the Lady herself. They squeeze their faces together. I fight to get the best angle.
9:52 p.m.: Stephen Ghan introduces Gaga to Bill Cunningham. I capture them together. I’m sure Bill disapproves.
10:12 P.m.: Kate Upton skipped the red carpet and was reluctant when I asked her to smile. I followed her into the party and cornered her. “Let’s just do one good picture” I said. Realizing I was right, she turned on her million-dollar smile.
10:16 p.m.: Kendall Jenner in my face! Kendall Jenner in my face!
10:23 p.m.: I don’t know who’s cleavage I like better, Atlanta de Cadenet’s or Lady Gaga’s. I’ll go with Gaga’s. Hers are more famous.
10:25 p.m.: “I’ve never seen you in such a low-cut dress and a great new haircut,” I say flirtatiously to Alina Cho. “I want to meet a guy. I want to meet you. I want to marry you,” she responds. “See you at the altar.”
10:41 p.m.: Who doesn’t want to see that many angles of Alessandra Ambrosio.
10:49 p.m.: The bar is packed, 10 deep. Waiting for a drink, I spot a random tray of martinis off to the side. Mine!
11:17 p.m.: Lady Gaga welcomes us to “the most fabulous party of fashion week.” She gets going with her jazz act. I think it’s some sort of Vegas lounge act.
11:23 p.m.: I have to say the performance photography-restrictions are ridiculous. Everyone and their mother is doing smartphone-ograhpy. There will be a million fuzzy Instagrams photos out there. Why wouldn’t they want some shots without the head cut off?
11:29 p.m.: They closed the bars. Stupid. And she’s still performing. Frustrated and unable to shoot or drink, I’m ready to leave. Wait! Nicki Minaj just arrived. I run out with every other photographer and find her. That’s what you get when you don’t want photogs shooting your performance — everyone leaves to find a new shot.